Decarbonising the construction industry: Can Europe lead in low carbon buildings and infrastructure?

Buildings & construction are a major driver of energy demand and global CO2 emissions. According to the European Commission, they jointly account for nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions and also 40% of final energy consumption. A recent IPCC report states the building and construction sector must decarbonise by 2050 to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The importance of cutting carbon in major infrastructure projects – in addition to the construction and operation of buildings – is increasingly being recognised. Changes to public procurement policies have the potential to make a dramatic impact here.

Given the work to decarbonise construction – from buildings to tunnels – already underway in leading markets like the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, the immediate challenge is not so much how to start addressing embodied carbon. Rather, it is to elevate leading work in this field to a much more visible level so it can spark and guide more mainstream debate. Leaders are already adopting Life Cycle Assessments, from extraction to construction, to designing for deconstruction.

The Swedish construction and civil engineering sector has now adopted an all-embracing roadmap to decarbonise construction, and could show the way to other member states, cities and actors to work together to deliver a net zero carbon environment by 2050.

Tracking sustainability in the supply chain is important. Studies suggest there are three aspects to consider: leadership, to set strong and ambitions targets; binding procurement policies, to make an impact through the whole supply chain; innovation brought by industry in order to meet the imposed targets.

Industry points to some successful examples in challenging traditional ways of working such as, in the quarrying industry through developing new concept machines (electric machines), work methods and site management systems which together, form a complete site solution.

In this high-level Forum it was discussed which actions are needed to drive innovation in infrastructure construction and procurement requirements to achieve decarbonisation by 2050.


Life Terra

Funded by the LIFE Programme of the EU

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